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News/Business. Tamron Hall. Tamron Hall provides context and informed perspectives on the stories making headlines. New.

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  MSNBC    News Nation    News/Business. Tamron Hall. Tamron Hall provides context and  
   informed perspectives on the stories making headlines. New.  

    July 6, 2011
    2:00 - 3:00pm EDT  

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i'm tamron hall. the "newsnation" is following developing news. this hour president obama will start answering questions in his first ever twitter town hall. for the past week twitterers, if you will, have been submitting questions about jobs and the economy using the hashtag askobama. now these tweets are coming from all walks of life, bloggers, political pundits included, even lawmakers. twitter co-founder jack dorsey will moderate the first of its kind town hall and earlier house speaker john boehner tweeted this question. will you take job-destroying tax hikes off the table? that is one of the questions that was submitted there, and the afl-cio union tweeted simply where are the jobs? kay asks what is being done to ensure entry level jobs for recent grads like me are being created alongside jobs for previously employed?
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now, according to a new mcclatchy maris poll a whopping 75% believe the country is still in a recession. 59% want the government to make debt reduction a priority, even if it means a slower economic recovery, and 33% want the government to stimulate the economy, even if it costs money. joining me live from the white house is nbc's kristen welker. kristen, we're looking at live pictures from the east room. give us a little bit of information on why the president decided to take this route. >> hi there, tamron. well, this is the way according to the white house for the president to have a realtime conversation with people out there. this is his way of talking to them about jobs, about the economy, about that 9.1% unemployment rate. so this is the way for the president to reach out to a lot of people over a short period of time. here's how it's going to work. it's going to last for about an hour. as you said, it will be moderated by twitter co-founder jack dorsey. people have been sending in their questions all week long.
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140 characters, which is what happens per twitter, the president, however, will be able to respond much longer than 140 characters. he'll be giving verbal responses and then staffers will tweet out sort of condensed versions of his responses. tamron? >> all right, kristen. already gone through a list of some of those that have been submitted. we'll see if speaker boehner gets his question answered by the president. joining me live is jonathan allen, senior political reporter for police coand the marketer for black enterprise magazine. the question from speaker boehner, will you take job-destroying tax hikes off the table? when you open the door for questions, you get questions you don't want to answer? >> a lot easier to ask a nasty question or tough question on twitter than to ask a softball. i doubt the president is going to answer that question
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certainly not phrased that way. reporters spend a lot of time trying to figure out whether to say something script, and i'm not sure speaker boehner would necessarily be very good at that. >> there was another tweet from the republicans regarding the debt ceiling debate here, and we know the president plans to meet with both sides. again, i want to play what republican senator jim demint said this morning on "morning joe" about this ongoing debate. >> put joe biden in front of a task force just to burn up the clock because they believe it's all about creating a crisis and then we have to do something urgently and we won't do what needs to be done. >> senator demint implying that the obama administration wants to create this crisis. we're still at the stalemate. is there any indication that there might be some substantive information that will come out of this new meeting that's planned? >> i think it's unlikely that you're going to see a deal come
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together tomorrow out of the white house. obviously there continues to be negotiations, discussions. speaker boehner and the president spoke over the weekend. i think things like that will continue. there's a little bit of a development today. house majority leader eric cantor said basically that they find an offset with other tax cuts, republicans will be willing to close what they are calling loopholes that allows tax breaks for corporate jet manufacturers and oil and gas subsidies, for shell and exxon and others. >> right. let me bring in patricia, introducing the co-founder of twitter. an interesting strategy, including the questions set aside from lawmakers. you have said said what's being done to ensure entry level jobs? you have the afl-cio union saying where are the jobs? what do you believe is behind this strategy for the president to try something like this for the first time? >> what the president is doing is approaching his audience in a way that's very reactive and
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direct and allows them to be the sounding board for how he build out his strategy moving forward. any strategist will tell you that they are going to use the data that they are getting from folks who are abilitively sharing their sentiment and their concerns and expecting more from the president to respond in a way that speaks to what he wants to do actively where they are. >> does it enable more control to filter out? we had that town hall before, and forgive me, i cannot recall the woman's name who talked to the president and said, listen, i'm tired of defending you. that was a live uncensored question. >> right. >> here you have someone taking a look at these tweets before they get to the president and consolidating them, not necessarily changing the question but certainly making the question shorter and it's not live. >> i think it speaks to transparency, and the president's confidence in the fact that he's going to adequately respond in a way that's authentic to the needs of constituents, in a way that can be tracked and measured by everyone. i think it's the most democratized platform available and for him to take such an
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active stance and address those concerns on this platform speaks to his ability to be transparent. >> the president has been introduced. he's walking out right now. this is a first of its kind, this twitter town hall. people from all walks of life have been submitting their questions using the hashtag askobama coming on the heels of a new poll that says 75% of the country believe the country is still in a recession and let's listen in. >> much easier to tweet from a seated position. >> and i understand you want to start the conversation off with a tweet yourself. >> i'm going to make history as the first president to live tweet so we've got a computer over here. all right.
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>> it's only 140 characters. >> all right. i think i have done this properly, but here's the test. >> and you tweeted. >> how about that. not bad. thank you. so i think my question will be coming up at some point. >> yes. so what -- what was your -- what was your question, here it is. >> here's the question, in order to reduce the deficit, what costs would you cut and what investments would you keep, and the reason i thought that this was an important question is that all of you know we are going through a spirited debate here in washington, but it's
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important to get the whole country involved in making a determination about what are the programs that can help us grow, can create jobs, improve our education system, maintain our clean air and clean water and what are those things that are a waste that we shouldn't be investing in because they are not helping us grow or create jobs or creating new businesses, and that debate is going to be heating up over the next couple of weeks so i'd love to hear from the american people and see what thoughts they have. >> excellent. >> well, first question comes from a cowat acurator in new ha, and we have eight around the country, and this one comes from william smith. what mistakes have you made in handling this recession, and what would you do differently? >> you know, that's a terrific question. when i first came into office, we were facing the worst recession since the great
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depression and looking around this room it's a pretty young room and certainly this recession that we face. we've faced sometimes difficult decisions. it was absolutely the right thing to do to put forward a recovery act that cut taxes for middle class folks so they had more money in their pocket to get through the recession. it was the right thing to do to provide assistance to states to make sure that they didn't have to lay off teachers and cops and fire fighters as quickly as they needed to. and it was the right thing to do to try to rebuild our from from a and put people back to work building roads and bridges and so forth. it also was the right thing to do, although a tough decision, to save the auto industry which is now profitable and gaining market share, the u.s. ought o'industry, for the first time in a very long time. i think that probably two things that i would do differently, one would have been to explain to
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the american people that it was going to take a while for us to get out of this. i think even i did not realize the magnitude, because most economists didn't realize the magnitude of the recession until fairly far into it, maybe two or three months into my presidency where we started realizing that we had lost 4 million jobs before i was even sworn in, and so i think people may not have been prepared for how long this was going to take and why we were going to have to make some very difficult decisions and choices. and -- and i take responsibility for that because, you know, setting people's expectations is part of how you end up being able to respond well. the other area, i think that the continuing decline in the housing market is something that hasn't bottomed out as quickly as we expected, and so that's continued to be a big drag on the economy. we've had to revamp our housing programs several times to try to
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help people stay in their homes and try to start lifting home values up, but of all the things we've done, that's probably been the area that's been most stubborn to us trying to solve the problem. >> mr. president, 27% of our questions are in the jobs category, as can you see from the screen over here. how next question has to do about jobs and technology. it comes from david. tech and knowledge industries are thriving, yet jobs discussion always centers on manufacturing. why not be realistic about jobs? >> it's not an either/or question. it's a both/and question. we have to be successful at the cutting edge industries of the future like twitter. but we also have always been a country that makes stuff, and manufacturing jobs end up having both higher wages typically, and they also have bigger multiplier
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effects, so one manufacturing job can support a range of other jobs, suppliers and restaurants near the plant and so forth so they end up having a substantial impact on the overall economy. what we want to focus on is advanced manufacturing that combines new technology so research and development to figure out how are we going to create the next twitter? how are we going to create the next google? how are we going to -- to create, you know, the next big thing but make sure production is here, so it's great that we have an apple that's creating ipods, ipads and designing them and creating the software, but it would be nice if we're also making the ipad and ipods here in the united states because that's more jobs that people can work at, and they are going to be a series of decisions that we're going to make. number one, are we investing in research and development in order to emphasize technology? and a lot of that has to come from government. that's how the internet got
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formed. that's how gps got formed. companies on their own can't always finance the basic research because they can't be assured that they will get a return on it. number two, we've got drastically improved how we train our work force and our kids around math and science and technology. number three, we've got to have a top-notch infrastructure to support advanced manufacturing, and we've got to look at sectors where we know this is going to be the future, something like clean energy, for example. for us not to be the leaders in investing in clean energy manufacturing so that wind turbines and solar panels are not only designed here in the united states but made here in the united states, makes absolutely no sense. we've got to invest in those areas for us to be successful, so you can combine high tech with manufacturing, and then you get the best of all world. >> you mentioned education. there's a lot of questions coming about education and its impact on the economy. this one in particular is from a
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curator who is pulling from a student in ohio named dustin. higher ed is necessary for a stronger economy, but for some middle class americans it's becoming too expensive. what can be done? >> well, here's some good news. we've already done something that's very significant and people may not know. as part of a higher education package that we passed last year, what we were able to do was to take away subsidies that were going to banks for serving as middle men in the student loan program and funnel that to help young people through pell grants and lower rates on student loans and so there are millions of students who are getting more affordable, student loans and grants as a consequence of the step that they have already taken. tens of billions of dollars worth additional federal dollars that are going to banks and students directly. in addition what we've said is
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that starting in 2013 young people who are going to college will not have to pay more than 10% of their income in repayment, and that obviously helps to relieve the burden on a lot of students, because, look, i'm a guy who had about $60,000 worth of debt when i graduated from law school and michelle had 60,000 so we were paying a bigger amount every month than our mortgage, and we did that for eight, ten years, so i -- i know how burdensome this can be. i do think that the universities still have a role in trying to keep their costs down, and i think that it's important, even if we've got better student loan programs, more grants, if the costs keep on going up, then we'll never have enough money. you'll never get enough help to avoid taking on these huge debts, and so working with university presidents to try to figure out where can you cut
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costs? of course, it may mean, you know, the food in the cafeteria is a little worse and the gym is not as fancy, but i think all of us have to figure out a way to make sure that higher education is accessible for everybody. one last point. i know on twitter i'm supposed to be short, but community colleges is a huge underutilized resource where what we want to do is set up a lifelong learning system where you may have gotten your four-year degree, but five years out you decide you want to go into another field or you want to brush up on new technologies that are going to help you advance. we need to create a system where you can conveniently access community colleges that are working with businesses to train for the jobs that actually exist. that's a huge area where i think we can make a lot of progress. >> you mentioned a lot, that's come up in conversation a lot recently, especially in some of
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our reese enquestions, specifically the debt ceiling. >> right. >> and this is formulated in our next question from renegade nerd out of atlanta. mr. president, will you issue an executive order to raise the debt ceiling pursuant to section 4 of the 14th amendment? >> can i say renegade nerd, that picture is -- captures is all there. got his hand over there and looking kind of confused. let me -- as quickly as i can describe what's at stake with respect to the debt ceiling. historically the united states whenever it has a deficit, it finances that deficit through the sale of treasuries, and this is a very common practice. over our lifetime typically the government is always running a modest deficit, and congress is
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supposed to vote on the amount of debt that treasury can essentially issue. it's a pretty esoteric piece of business. typically has not been something that created a lot of controversy. what's happening now is that congress is suggesting we may not vote to raise the debt ceiling. if we do not, then the treasury will run out of money. it will not be able to pay the bills that are owing, and potentially the entire world capital markets could decide, you know what? the full faith and credit of the united states doesn't mean anything, and -- and so our credit could be downgraded, interest rates could go drastically up, and it could cause a whole new spiral into a second recession or worse. so this is something that we shouldn't be toying with.
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what dexter's question referred to was there are some people who say that under the constitution it's unconstitutional for congress not to allow treasury to pay its bills and are suggesting that this should be challenged under the constitution. i don't think we should even get to the constitutional issue. congress has a responsibility to make sure we pay our bills. we've always paid them in the past. the notion that the u.s. is going to default on its debt is just irresponsible, and my expectation is that over the next week to two weeks that congress, working with the white house, comes up with a deal that solves our deficit, solves our debt problems and makes sure that our full faith and credit is protected. >> so pack to jobs. we have a question from new york city about immigrant entrepreneurs. immigrant entrepreneurs can build companies and create jobs
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for u.s. workers. will you support a start-up visa program? >> what i want to do is make sure that talented people who have come to this country to study, to get degrees and are willing and interested in starting up businesses can do so as opposed to going back home and starting up businesses there and competing against the u.s. to take away jobs. we're working with the business community as well as the entrepreneurial community to figure out are there ways that we can streamline the visa system, so if you are studying here, you've got a phd in computer science, or you've got a phd in engineering, and you say i'm ready to invest in the united states, create jobs in the united states, then we are able to say to you we want you to stay here, and -- and i think that it is possible for us to deal with this problem, but it's
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important for us to look at it more broadly. we've got an immigration system that's broken right now, where too many folks are breaking the law, but our laws make it too hard for talented people to contribute and be part of our society. and we've always been a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, so we need comprehensive immigration reform, part of which would allow entrepreneurs and high-skilled individuals to stay here, because we want to be attracting that talent here. we don't want to pay for training them here and then having them benefit other countries. >> our next question was sent just an hour ago and touches on alternative energy and job creation. will you focus on promoting alternative energy industries in states like louisiana and texas? >> i want to promote alternative oil energy everywhere, including louisiana an texas. this is something i'm very proud of and doesn't get a lot of
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attention. we've made the largest investment in clean energy in our history through the recovery act, and so we put forward a range of programs that provided credits and grants to start up companies in areas like creating wind turbines, solar panels. a great example is advanced battery manufacturing. when i came into office, advanced batteries which are used, for example, in electric cars, we only accounted for 2% of the world market in advanced batteries, and we have quintupeled our market share just over the last two years, and we're projecting we can get to 30%, 40% of that market. that's creating jobs all across the midwest, all across america, and whoever wins this race on advanced battery manufacturing is probably going to win the race to produce the cars of the
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21st century. china is investing in it. germany is investing in it. we need to be investing in it as well. >> i want to take a moment and point out the map just behind you. these are tweets coming in in realtime and questions being asked right now and it flips between the various categories that we've determined and also just general askobama questions. so our next question is coming up on the screen now from patrick. mr. president, in several states we have seen people lose their collective bargaining rights. do you have a plan to rectify this? >> the first thing i want to emphasize is that collective bargaining is the reason why the vast majority of americans enjoy a minimum wage, enjoy weekends, enjoy overtime. so many things that we take for granted are because workers came together to bargain with their
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employers. now, we live in a very competitive society in the 21st century, and that means in the private sector labor has to take management into account, you know, if labor is making demands that make management broke and they can't compete, then that doesn't do anybody any good. in the public sector what is true is that some of the pension plans that are in place and the health benefits that are in place are so out of proportion with what's happening in the private sector that a lot of taxpayers start feeling resentful. they say, well, if i don't have health care where i only have to pay $1 for prescription drugs, why is it that the person whose salary i'm paying has a better deal? what that means is that all of us are going to have to make some adjustments, but the principle of collective bargaining, making sure that
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people can exercise their rights to be able to join together with other workers and to -- to negotiate and kind of even the bargaining power on either side, that's something that has to be protected, and we can make these adjustments in a way that are equitable and preserve people's collective bargaining rights. typically the challenges against bargaining rights have been taking place at the state level. i don't have direct control over that, but what i can do is to speak out forcefully for the principle that we can make those adjustments that are necessary during these difficult fiscal times but do it in a way that preserves collective bargaining rights and certainly at the federal level where i do have influence, can i make sure that we make these adjustments without affecting people's collective bargaining rights. i'll give you just one example. we froze federal pay for federal workers for two years. now that wasn't real popular, as you might imagine, among federal
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workers. on the other hand, we were able to do that prosizely because we wanted to prevent layoffs and we wanted to make sure that we send a signal that everybody is going to have to make some sacrifices, including federal workers. by the way, people who work in their white house have had their pay frozen since i've come in, our high wage folks, so they haven't had a raise in two and a half years, and that's appropriate because a lot of ordinary folks out there haven't either. they have seen cuts in some cases. >> mr. president, 6% of our questions are coming in about housing which you can see on the graph behind me. this one in particular has to do with personal debt in housing. how will men work to help underwater mortgages? >> good question. one of the biggest challenges during the course of the last two and a half years has been dealing with a huge burst of the
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housing bubble. what's happened is a lot of folks are under water meaning their home values went down so steeply and so rapidly that now their mortgage, the amount they owe, is a lot more than the assessed worth of their home, and that obviously burdens a lot of folks. it moans that if they are selling, they have to sell a massive loss. the single biggest asset of most americans is their home, so what we've been trying to do is to work with the issuers of the mortgage, the banks or service companies to convince them to work with homeowners who are paying, trying to do the right thing, trying to stay in their homes, to see if they can modify the loans so that their payments are lower, and in some cases maybe even modify their principal so that they don't
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feel burdened by these huge debts and feel like they have to leave homes that they love and want to raise their families. we've made some progress through the programs that we've set up here. have probably seen several million home modifications, either directly because we -- we had control of the loan process or because the private sector followed suit, because it's not enough, and so we're going back to the drawing board, talking to banks, try to put some pressure on them to work with people who have mortgages to see if we can make further adjustments, modify loans more quickly and also see if there may be circumstances where reducing the principal is appropriate. >> our next question comes from someone you may know. this is speaker boehner. >> oh, there you go. >> after embarking on a record
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spending binge that left us deeper in debt, where are the jobs, question mark, and i want to know that these characters are his fault. >> first of all, john obviously needs to work on his typing skills. well, look, obviously john is the speaker of the house. he's a republican and -- and this is a slightly skewed question, but what he's right about is that we have not seen fast enough job growth relative to the need. i mean, we lost, as i said, 4 million jobs before i took office, before i was sworn in. about 4 million jobs were lost in the few months right after i took office, before our economic
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policies had a chance to take any effect, and -- and over the last 15 months we've actually seen 2 million jobs created in the private sector, and so we're each month seeing growth in jobs, but we've got an 8 million job hole, and you're only filling is 100,000, 200,000 jobs at a time each month, obviously that's way too long for a lot of folks who are still out of work. there are a couple of things that we can continue to do. i actually worked with speaker boehner to pass a payroll tax cut in december that put an extra $1,000 in the pockets of almost every single american. that means they are spending money. that means that businesses have more customers, and that has helped improve overall growth.
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we have provided at least 16 tax cuts to small businesses who have needed a lot of help and have been struggling, including, for example, saying zero capital gains taxes on startups because our attitude is we want to encourage new companies, young entrepreneurs to get out there, start their business without feeling like if they are successful in the first couple of years, that somehow they are -- they have to pay taxes as opposed to putting that money back into their business. so we've been able to cooperate with republicans on a range of these issues. there are some areas where the republicans have been more resistant in cooperating, even though i think most objective observers think it's the right thing to do. i'll give you a specific example. it's estimated that we have about $2 trillion worth of infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt. roads and bridges, sewer lines,
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water mains. our air traffic control system doesn't make sense. we don't have the kind of electric grid that's smart meaning it doesn't waste a lot of energy in transmission. our blondband system is slower than a lot of other countries. for us to move forward on a major infrastructure initiative, where we're putting people to work right now including construction workers who are disproportionately unemployed when the housing bubble went bust, to put them to work rebuilding america at a time when interest rates are very low, contractors are looking for work and -- and the need is there, that is something that could make a huge positive impact on the economy overall. and it's an example of making an investment now that ends up having heij payoffs down the road.
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we haven't gotten the kind of cooperation that i would like to see on some of those ideas and initiatives, but i'm just going to keep on trying, and eventually i'm sure the speaker will see the light. >> speaking of startups, there's a ton of questions about small businesses and how they affect job creation. this one comes from neil. small bis creates jobs. >> not only do small businesses but also in some cases we've provided big business. for example, if they are making investments in plants and equipment this year, they can fully write down -- questions i
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hear from small business right now actually has to do with financing because a lot of small businesses got their financing from community banks. typically they are not getting them from the big wall street banks, but they are getting them from the various regional banks in their communities. a lot of those banks were pretty overextended in the commercial real estate market which has been hammered. a lot of them are still digging themselves out of bad loans that they made that were shown to be bad during the recession, and so what we've tried to do is give the small business administration, the federal agency that helps small businesses, to step in and to provide more financing. you know, waiving fees, seeing if we can lower interest rates in some cases, making sure that the threshold for companies that
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qualify for loans are more generous, and that's helped a lot of small businesses all across the country, and this is another example of where working with congress my hope is that we can continue to provide these tax incentives and maybe do even a little bit more. >> our next question was tweeted less than five months ago, and comes to us from craig. my question is can you give companies a tax break if they hire an honorable discharged veteran? >> this is something that i've been talking a lot about internally. we've got all these young people coming back from iraq and afghanistan. have made incredible sacrifices. have taken on incredible responsibilities. you know, you see some 23-year-old who is leading a platoon in hugely dangerous circumstances making decisions, operating complex technologies, these are folks who can perform,
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but, unfortunately, what we're seeing is that a lot of these young veterans have a higher unemployment rate than people who didn't serve and that makes no sense, so what we would like to do is potentially combine a tax credit for a company that hires veterans with a campaign to have private companies step up and do the right thing and hire more veterans, and one of the things we've done is internally in the federal government, we have minimum wage a huge emphasis on ramping up our outreach to veterans and hiring of veterans, and this has been a top priority of mine. the notion that these folks who are sacrificing for our freedom and our security end up coming home and not being able to find a job i think is unacceptable. >> mr. president, this next question comes from someone else you may recognize, and what's interesting about this question, it was heavily retweeted and voted up our user base.
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was it a mistake to fail to get republicans to commit to raise the debt ceiling at the same time tax cuts were extended? >> nicholas is a great columnist, but i have to tell you the assumption of the question is that i was going to be able to get them to commit to raising the debt ceiling. in december we were in what was called the lame duck session. the republicans knew they were coming in as the majority. we had only a few short weeks to deal with a lot of complicated issues, including repealing don't ask, don't tell, dealing with a s.t.a.r.t. treat toe reduce nuclear weapons and to come to terms with a budget. and what we were able to do was negotiate a package where we agreed to do something that we didn't like but that the republicans badly wanted which was to extend the bush tax cuts
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on the wealthy for another two years. in exchange, we were able to get this payroll tax that put -- tax cut that put $1,000 in the pockets of every american which would help economic growth and jobs. we were also able to get unemployment insurance extended for the millions of americans out of -- who were still out of work and whose benefits were about to run out, and -- and that was a much better deal than a lot of people expected. it would have been great if we were able to also settle this issue of the debt ceiling at that time. that wasn't the deal that was available, but -- but here's the more basic point. never in our history has the united states defaulted on its debt. the debt ceiling should not be something that is used as a gun against the heads of the american people to extract tax
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breaks for corporate jet owners or oil and gas companies that are making billions of dollars because the price of gasoline has gone up so high. i mean, i'm happy to have those debates. i think the american people are on my side on this. what we node to do is to have a balanced approach where everything is on the table. we need to reduce corporate loopholes. we reduce discretionary spending on programs that aren't working. we need to reduce defense spending. everything has -- we need to look at entitlements, and we have to say how do we protect and preserve medicare and social security for not just this generation but also future generations, and that's going to require some modifications, even as we maintain its basic structure. so what i'm hoping to see over the next couple of weeks is people put their dogmas aside,
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their sacred cows aside. they come together and they say here's a sensible approach that reduces our deficit, makes sure the government is spending within its means but also continues to make investments in education and clean energy and technology and basic research that are going to preserve our competitive advantage going forward. >> so speaking of taxes, our next question is coming to us from alabama from lane. what changes to the tax system do you think are necessary to help solve the deficit problem and for the system to be fair? >> well, i think that, first of all, it's important to realize since i've been in office i've cut taxes for middle class families repeatedly. the recovery act cut taxes for 95% of working families. the payroll tax cut that we passed in december put an extra $1,000 in the pockets of every
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family in america, and so we actually now have the lowest tax rates since the 1950s. our tax rates are lower now than they were under ronald reagan. they are lower than they were under george bush sr. or george bush jr. they are lower than they were under bill clinton. the question is how do we pay for the things that we donthink important, and how do we make sure that the tax system is exwitdable, and what i've said is in addition to eliminating a whole bunch of corporate loopholes that are just not fair, the notion that corporate jets should get a better deal than commercial jets, or the notion that oil and gas companies that made tens of billions of dollar per quarter need an additional break to give an incentive to go drill for oil, that doesn't make sense, but what i've also said is people like me who have been
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incredibly fortunate, mainly because a lot of folks bought my bo book, for me to be able to -- to go back to the tax rate that existed under bill clinton, to pay a couple of extra percentage points so that i can make sure that seniors still have medicare or kids still have headsta star that makes sense to me and, jack, i'm sure it makes sense to you given that twitter has done pretty well. i think for us to say that millionaires and billionaires can go back to the tax rate that existed when bill clinton was president, that doesn't affect middle class families who are having a tough time and haven't seen their incomes go up. it does mean that those who are in the top 1%, 2% who have seen their incomes go up much more quickly than anybody else pays a
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little bit more in order to make sure that we can make the basic investments that grow this country. that's not an unreasonable position to take, and -- and the vast majority of americans agree with me on that. that doesn't mean that we can just continue spending anything we want. we're still going to have to make some tough decisions about the defense spending or even some programs that i like but we may not need, but we can't close the deficit and the debt just by cutting things like head start or medicare. that can't be an equitable solution to solving the problem and then we say to millionaires and billion airs you don't have to do anything. i don't want a $200,000 tax break if it means that some senior is going to have to pay $6,000 more for their medicare that they don't have, or a bunch of kids are going to be kicked off of head start and aren't going to get, you know, the basics that they need in order to succeed in our society.
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i don't think that's good for me. i don't think that's good for the country. >> we have a follow-up question to your answer about homeowners being under water and this one came in under ten minutes ago. is free market an option? obama on homeowners under water have made some progress but plus needed looking at options. >> when scnaps talks about free market options, i mean, keep in mind that most of us is going to be a function of the markets slowly improving because people start having more confidence in the economy, more people decide, you know what, the housing market has kind of bottomed out. now is the time to buy. they start buying. that starts slowly lifting up prices, and you get a virtuous cycle going on. so a lot of this is going to be determined by how well the
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overall economy does, the people who feel more confident about jobs. do they feel more confident that they are going to be able to make their mortgage, and -- and given the size of the housing market, no federal program is going to be able to solve the housing market. most of this is going to be free market. the one thing that we can do is make sure that for homeowners who have been responsible, didn't buy more house than they could afford, had some tough luck because they happened to buy at the top of the market, can afford to continue to pay for that house, can afford their current mortgage, but needs some relief given the drop in value, that we try to match them up with bankers so that each side ends up winning.
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the banker says i'm going to be better off than in this house is foreclosed on and i have to sell it at a fire sale. the mortgage owner is able to stay in their home but still pay, you know, pay what's owed, and -- and i think that that kind of adjustment and negotiation process it's did you have and difficult partly because a lot of banks don't hold mortgages. they were all sold to wall street and were sliced and diced in these complex financial transactions so sorting through who owns what can be very complicated, and as you know, some of the banks didn't do a very good job on filing some of the papers on these foreclosure actions so there's been litigation around that, but the bottom line is we should be able to make some progress on helping some people, understanding that some folks just bought more home than they could afford and probably they are going to be better off renting. >> so 10% of our questions now
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are with education, and this one surfaced from our curator in california. public education here in california is falling apart, not graduating enough skilled workers or smart citizens. privatization looming? >> look, when america was making a transition from an agricultural society to an industrial society, we as a country made a decision that we were going to have public high schools that would upgrade the skills of young people as they were leaving the farms and start participating in a more complex industrial economy. when my grandfather's generation came back from world war ii, we made a decision that we were going to have a gi bill that would send these young people to college because we figured that would help advance our economy.
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every time we've made a public investment in education, it has paid off many times over. for us now to give short shrift to education when the world is more complex than ever and it's a knowledge-based society and companies locate based on whether they have got skilled work forces or not, that makes no sense, and so we've got to get our priorities straight here. it is important for us to have a healthy business climate, to try to keep taxes low, to make sure that we're not spending on things that don't work. it's important that we get a good bang for the buck in education, and so my administration has pushed more reform, more vigorously across the country through things like race to the top than most previous administrations have
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been able to accomplish, so we don't just need more money, we need more reform, but we do have to pay for good teachers. young talented people aren't going to go into teaching if they are getting paid a poverty wage. we do have to make sure that buildings aren't crumbling. it's pretty hard for kids to concentrate if there are leaks and it's cold and there are rats running around in their schools, and that's true in a lot of schools around the country. we do have to make sure that there are computers in a computer age, inside classrooms, and that they work and that there's internets that are actually -- that there are internet connections that actually function, and, you know, i think that those states that are going to do well and those countries that do well are the ones that are going to continue to be committed to -- to making education a priority. >> another follow-up sent in response to your answer on vietnam vets. we definitely need to get more vets into jobs, but when are we going to support the troops by
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cutting oil dependance? >> reducing our dependance on oil is good for our economy. it's good for our security, and it's good for our planet so it's a three-for. and we have not had a serious energy policy for decades. every president talks about it. we don't get it done. now, i'd like to see robust legislation in congress that actually took some steps to reduce oil dependency. we're not going to be able to replace oil overnight, even if we are going full throttle on clean energy solutions like solar and wind and biodiesel, we're going to need oil for some time, but if we had a goal where
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we're just reducing our dependance on oil each year in a staggered set of steps, it would ave consumers in their pocketbook. it would make our businesses more efficient and less subject to the whims of the spot oil market. it would make us less vulnerable to the kinds of disruptions that have occurred because of what happened in the middle east this -- this spring, and it would drastically cut down on our carbon resources, so one -- what i -- unfortunately, we've not seen a sense of urgency coming out of congress over the last several months on this issue. most of the rhetoric has been about let's produce more. well, we can produce more, and i'm committed to that, but the fact is we only have 2%, 3% of the world's oil reserves. we use 25% of the world's oil. we can't drill our way out of this problem. what we can do, that we've
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already done administratively, is increase fuel efficiency standards on cars just to take one example. that will save us millions of barrels of oil just by using existing technologies and saying to car companies you can do better than ten miles a gallon or 15 miles a gallon, and you're starting to see detroit respond. u.s. car companies have figured out, you know what? if we produce, you know, high quality electric vehicles, if we produce high quality low gas mileage or high gas mileage vehicles, those will sell, and we're actually starting to see market share increase for american cars in subcompact and compact cars for the first time in many years, and that's partly because we increased fuel efficiency standards through an administrative agreement. it's also because as part of the deal to bail out the auto
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companies we said to them start focusing on the cars of the future instead of looking at big gas guzzlers of the past. >> so all of our questions are coming in realtime. >> and we're going to take a quick break. we're listening in to the first of its kind twitter town hall from president obama. let me quickly go to jonathan allen, a senior congressional reporter for politico. jonathan we end here with this oil dependency question. again, the same kind of tone from the president. the answers we've heard before, his thoughts including on the debt ceiling. what has stood out to you? >> you know, it's interesting what stands out to me is more the tone and the venue for the president. this feels like a campaign event, although with the official backdrop, this is something he's very good at, fielding questions. you know, obviously they are controlled, but he was able to talk about energy policy and infrastructure policy, about education policy, about the debt ceiling, about help for homeowners. this is the kind of -- the kind of thing that makes voters have confidence in the president, at least as being competent to deal
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with the issues, and so it's a good event for him. obviously not as compelling as the casey anthony trial. >> okay. i'm going to let you stick to that point, but let me move to patricia. you're an expert on this. the politicians using twitter, facebook and social media to reach out. is it mission accomplished from what we've seen so far in this 54 minutes? >> i think he can count on its success. the president was able to illuminate a lot of issues ranging from policy to questions around the economy and business where he was providing context and when you have someone directly addressing your questions and sort of explaining things with examples that make sense in realtime. did a great job of explaining collective bargaining and what that means to people in their everyday lives. >> and the questions from varied from people all around the country. which is also very interesting. >> absolutely. from college students to as you saw speaker boehner, everyone had a chance to pipe in and ask their questions and feel as though their voices were heard, those, of course, that were selected and for the president to be able to do that speaks to his ability to connect even on
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this platform effect sdplifl how big is this for twitter? sdp for twitter i believe they have hit their marks in terms of being just as competitive a platform as facebook or youtube. they have entered the front with respect to campaigns, politics and discussing issues of a wider range that the digital audience can feel that they are a part of. >> our director of black marketing magazine. jonathan, thanks for sticking around with us, senior congressional reporter for police cold. we've watched the first of its kind town hall. the president taking a number of questions including the debt ceiling and the 14th amendment. i'm sure a lot of people will be talking about that. later in our primetime programming, but that does it for this wednesday edition of "newsnation." i'm tamron hall. tomorrow i'm traveling thankfully to cape canaveral for nasa's final space shuttle launch. "newsnation" will broadcast live from kennedy space center friday 2:00 p.m. eastern time. right here on msnbc. right now we don't know if this launch is going to happen. 70% the weather may have an effect on it. we'll be there rain or shine.
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martin bashir's show is up next with richard lui filling in. a l. for a drink that's just the way you like it. make it yours. make it mio. for a drink that's just the way you like it. every day you live with the pain of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis could be another day you're living with joint damage. help stop the damage before it stops you by asking your rheumatologist about humira. for many adult patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis humira has been proven to help relieve pain and stop joint damage.
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and good afternoon. i'm richard lui in for martin parishir on this 6th of july. fruitless. john boehner says debt talks are as good as dead if the subject turns to taxes. are they negotiating in good faith? faith and politics. michele bachmann wears her on her sleeves. >> pause when you're hot for jesus christ, there is nothing that is like that. >> how much is too much when god and politics collide on the campaign trail? and you stay classy, mr. mason. the casey anthony circus is set to leave town, but not before a final in your face gesture from a lawyer for the woman who very well may walk out of jail tomorrow. all right. we've been watching president obama hold the first ever twitter town hal